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MC 644; T-139; Vt-23; Phon 15

Child, Julia. Papers of Julia Child, 1925-1993: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Radcliffe College Class of 1950 and the Radcliffe College Class of 1968.

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 644; T-139; Vt-23; Phon 15
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Julia Child
Title: Papers of Julia Child, 1925-1993
Date(s): 1925-1993
Quantity: 60.18 linear feet (112 file boxes, 3 folio boxes, 8 folio+ boxes) plus 3 oversize folders, 4 supersize folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 1 oversize photograph folder, 8 objects)
Language of materials: Most materials in English; some correspondence in French.
Abstract: Correspondence, writings, photographs, etc., of Julia Child, cookbook author, teacher, and television personality.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 76-158, 77-M35, 77-M35, 77-M156, 79-M223, 79-M295, 80-M66, 81-M119, 83-M224, 84-M51, 87-M97, 88-M68, 90-M171, 92-M1, 92-M80, 92-M165, 93-M2, 93-M10, 93-M89, 93-M97, 93-M136, 2001-M217
These papers of Julia Child were given to the Schlesinger Library by Julia Child between May 1976 and August 1993.

Processing Information:

Preliminary inventory: November 1993
By: Jane S. Knowles
Updated: April 2011
By: Jenny Gotwals, with assistance from Camille Owens.

Access Restrictions:

Access. The papers are open to research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Julia Child is held by the Julia Child Foundation. Copyright in Paul Child's photographs published in any of Julia Child's books during her lifetime is also held by the Julia Child Foundation. Copyright in all other Paul Child photographs is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Julia Child Papers, 1925-1993; item description, dates. MC 644, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

There is additional material at the Schlesinger Library; see Additional papers of Julia Child (MC 660), Julia Child Videotape Collection (Vt-23), Julia Child Audiotape Collection (T-139), Avis DeVoto Papers (A-167) and unprocessed additional papers, Simone Beck Papers (MC 432), and Julia Child Papers, 1968-1997 (2007-M84).


Julia Child, cookbook writer, cookery teacher, and TV personality, was born Julia Carolyn McWilliams, in Pasadena, California, on August 15, 1912. She attended the Katharine Branson School in Ross, California (1927-1930), and graduated from Smith College in 1934. She worked in public relations in New York City (1934-1941) and served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, 1941-1946). She was stationed in Ceylon, where she met her future husband, and in China.
In 1946, she married Paul Cushing Child (1902-1994). After the war, Paul worked for the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), and, while the Childs were stationed in Paris, Julia studied at the Cordon Bleu and soon opened a cooking school, L'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes, with Simone Beck and Louisette Remion Bertholle. Her first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, written with Beck and Bertholle, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1961; the second volume, by Child and Beck, appeared in 1970. These books gathered together the methods and recipes of classic French cooking and introduced Americans to French cooking that worked.
In 1962 Child launched a television cooking show, The French Chef, on WGBH-TV, the Public Broadcasting System channel in Boston. This was followed by two other series of The French Chef in color (1970, 1972). She resolutely refused all offers to appear on commercial television, preferring the freedom to run the program without interference from sponsors. Two cookbooks based on the series were published: The French Chef Cookbook (Knopf, 1968; Bantam, 1972) and From Julia Child's Kitchen (Knopf, 1975; Jonathan Cape, 1978). In the television programs and the books that accompanied them, Child was able to communicate, with gusto and enthusiasm, classic techniques for cooking, showing the importance of fresh produce and ingredients and of correct kitchen equipment and cooking procedures. She won a national following and launched a revolution in cooking and eating in the United States.
Three more television series followed: Julia Child & Company (1978), Julia Child & More Company (1980), and Dinner with Julia (1982). Knopf brought out companion cookbooks for the first two of these shows. Child's next book, The Way to Cook (Knopf, 1989), was accompanied by a "how-to" video. In addition to cookbooks, she wrote regular columns for the Boston Globe, McCall's, Parade, and many articles on food or cookery in other magazines.
As a star popular entertainer, Child was much in demand for cooking demonstrations, lectures, and promotions for countless non-profit organizations. She appeared with the Boston Pops Orchestra, took part in television specials (as compère of programs about White House banquets), and appeared on talk shows and as a guest on ABC's Good Morning America.
Child always worked with a team of colleagues. First and foremost was her husband Paul, accomplished photographer, artist, and chronicler of their life together. After his retirement, he was "resident manager" for her TV shows, was responsible for black and white still photography, and contributed some of the line drawings illustrating Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Other colleagues included Ruth Lockwood, producer of her TV series; Avis DeVoto, the friend who, when Houghton Mifflin rejected the manuscript for Mastering the Art of French Cooking, sent it to Knopf, which published it; Peggy Yntema, co-author of Julia Child & Company and Julia Child & More Company; Gladys Christopherson and Stephanie Hersch, secretaries; and a host of others who answered fan letters or helped backstage with the production of her television programs.
Child's many awards include the Peabody (1965) and Emmy (1966) for The French Chef (the first to be given to a PBS program), l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole (1967), l'Ordre National du Mérite (1976), and honorary degrees from Boston College, Bates College, Smith College, and Harvard University, among others. She received the French Legion of Honor in 2000 and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003.
The Childs maintained three homes: in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Santa Barbara, California; and in the south of France, where they built a summer home on the property of Child's colleague, Simone Beck. Paul died in 1994. Julia moved permanently to a retirement community in Santa Barbara, California in 2001; she died of kidney failure in Montecito, California, on August 13, 2004.


The collection is arranged in six series:


These papers of Julia Child include correspondence, drafts of cookbooks, documentation of her television cooking shows, photographs, etc. They were previously designated by an accession number range: "76-158--93-M136." In 1993, these papers were roughly sorted and screened so they could be made available for research use. In 2010-2011, the collection was reboxed, and an archivist added more description to folder titles and intellectually rearranged some folders; file unit numbers and physical arrangement were retained. File units beginning with #1306 were added to these papers from subsequent accessions donated after 1993. See Additional papers of Julia Child (MC 660), generally because their contents directly complemented other material here. Audiovisual material (formerly listed as #1274at-1305vt) has been removed from the collection and has been processed separately. See Julia Child Videotape Collection (Vt-23) and Julia Child Audio collection (T-139).
The collection includes the personal and professional papers of Julia Child and her husband Paul Child; it is arranged in six series.
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL, 1925-1993 (#1-44), contains Julia Child's curricula vitae, awards, and tributes, as well as Paul Child's poetry, journals, and autobiographical notes. The series is arranged in two subseries.
Suberies A, Julia Child, 1929-1993 (#1-24), includes Julia Child's curricula vitae and other biographical clippings and notes, as well as many awards and tributes. Award folders may include congratulatory correspondence, clippings, etc. Two high school literary magazines include verse by Child; a folder on Les Cercle des Gourmands (#3) includes an article on the group written by Child. Several folders contain Child's itineraries for foreign trips. An address book seemingly belonging to both Julia and Paul Child is included; photographs of friends are pasted inside.
Subseries B, Paul Child, 1925-1989 (#25-44), includes journals, autobiographical notes, and collected verse of Paul Child. Also included are his tax returns, applications for government service, and OSS documents (#25). Several folders contain drawings, one contains postcards of classical statues in erotic poses.
Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1925-1992 (#45-513, 1377-1382), contains both personal and professional correspondence of Julia and Paul Child. The series is arranged in six subseries.
Subseries A, Personal, 1925-1989 (#45-118, 1377-1381, 1398m), contains correspondence between the Childs; Paul's life-long correspondence with his twin brother Charles that chronicles the lives of Paul and Julia in OSS, USIA, and the international world of cookery; and Paul's correspondence with friends. Paul's letters to Charles Child and his wife Freddie (#48-95), are often in journal form with occasional notes from Julia. Julia often wrote separate letters to Freddie; these can be found throughout. Letters written during World War II discuss Paul's work in India (1944), Sri Lanka (1944), and China (1945). Letters from the early 1950s, when Paul and Julia were living in Paris, include descriptions of art exhibits, politics, USIA inter-office dynamics, food, travel to Italy and England, etc. Letters written after 1952 also often contain verse by Paul, including several poems written to Julia. Many of the letters to Charles Child have Paul's later (post-1969) notes giving a brief summary of the letter, as well as explaining other related contemporaneous events in the lives of the Childs. These letters were a main source for Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme's book My Life in France (2006).
Subseries B, Cookery, 1951-1992 (#119-352, 1382), contains Julia Child's correspondence with culinary friends and colleagues, including Simone Beck, James Beard, M.F.K. Fisher, Madeleine Kammen, Anne Willan, etc.; and with and about cooking schools. Child has included her own cross-references among the correspondence: some of these notes are written at the top of letters, some are on separate sheets of paper. Most folders include incoming as well as Child's outgoing letters. Many include clippings, menus, etc. Most of Simone Beck's letters to Child are in French. Correspondence with Anne Willan and Mark Cherniavsky is about their establishment of La Varenne, a cooking school in Paris. More correspondence with Avis DeVoto is in her Papers (A-167) and unprocessed additional papers. The arrangement of alphabetical files follows Julia Child's original order. Correspondence with cooking schools and chefs follows a general alphabetical order.
Subseries C, Fans, 1962-1992 (#353-420, 1398m), contains responses of television viewers and readers to Julia Child's television shows and specials, cookbooks, articles, and magazine columns. Most mail is in response to The French Chef and/or Mastering the Art of French Cooking; other programs or articles mentioned in significant groups of letters are listed. Letters to Child were sent by fans of all ages, from around the country, and sometimes internationally. Letters sometimes include recipes, questions about Child's recipes, photographs of fans holding dishes they made from Child's recipes, and requests for appearances. Some letters comment on food allergies, animal cruelty, vegetarianism, etc. Many folders also include Child's (or her secretary's) responses; typed copies of generic responses are filed at the end of the subseries. The arrangement is chronological, with incoming letters to Child filed first, followed by folders of Child's form letters in reply.
Subseries D, Publishers, 1952-1989 (#421-472), includes correspondence with publishers Houghton Mifflin, Alfred E. Knopf, and with magazine editors. Some correspondence about contracts is with Paul Sheeline, Julia Child's nephew and an attorney. Much of the correspondence is with Judith Jones, Child's editor at Knopf. Folders may include contracts, galleys, or drafts. The subseries is arranged chronologically, with all folders for a project grouped together.
Subseries E, Attorneys and finances, 1952-1989 (#473-485), includes correspondence with Child's attorneys from the firm of Hill & Barlow, financial summaries, and correspondence about book royalties and various lawsuits. Correspondence with attorneys is arranged chronologically, followed by another chronological arrangement of correspondence about financial matters.
Subseries F, Television companies, 1962-1986 (#486-513), includes correspondence about the promotion and distribution of Child's television programs. Correspondents include WGBH, ABC, Child's producer Ruth Lockwood, and Child's lawyers at Hill & Barlow. Some correspondence (e.g., #507) includes an analysis of Child's fan mail. The subseries is arranged chronologically.
Series III, TEACHING, 1951-1993 (#514-742, 1383), documents Julia Child's activities as a teacher and is arranged in three subseries.
Subseries A, Cooking classes, 1951-1963, 1985 (#514-521), includes material from L'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes, Child's cooking school in Paris, as well as from more informal courses of lessons held in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. Most folders include Child's notes on dishes taught, recipes, menus, etc. The subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries B, Television programs, 1962-1983 (#522-661, 1383), includes production scripts and notes, recipes, transcripts, and some correspondence for three series of The French Chef (1962, 1970, 1972), Julia Child & Company (1978), Julia Child & More Company (1979), Dinner at Julia's (1982), and other television appearances. Some of The French Chef material is Child's own notebooks for each show, which include recipes, lists, production schedules, production notes, spatial drawings, transcripts, etc., arranged by show number. The first several years of The French Chef were filmed in black and white, and known as Series 1. Shows were sequentially (#1-134) numbered based on their air date, but were not necessarily filmed in sequence; generally film dates, not air dates, are given in the inventory. Series 2, filmed in color after a break of several years, was comprised of shows #201-265; Series 3 contained shows #301-316. Lists of The French Chef show titles and numbers are in #607, 611, 612, and 614. Production scripts (#569-590) include lists of ingredients, spatial drawings and lists of props, as well as draft and final scripts. Some may have belonged to Ruth Lockwood. Extra recipes for shows seem to have been kept both for reference and also for mailing to interested fans. Some have Child's notations and changes. The folders of all the recipes from the 200 series (#602-604) seem to have been used in the making of a subject index). Some recipe variants for The French Chef and Julia Child & Company were added during reprocessing from accession number 2001-M217: these were the same recipes printed in a different format. Other television appearances include a special on a White House state dinner, and material on Queen Elizabeth's Bicentennial visit to the White House (see also #362, 375). The subseries is organized with Child's own shows arranged chronologically, followed by other appearances arranged chronologically. See also MC 660 for more material on The French Chef.
Subseries C, Demonstrations, etc., 1961-1993 (#662-742), includes correspondence, recipes, and production notes for cooking demonstrations, other promotions, and special appearances by Child. The majority of the events are cooking demonstrations, a few are public television fundraising promotions Child attended in person or recorded for broadcast. Folders on large demonstrations or other large events are often are comprised of a small (dismantled) binder with sections for recipes, equipment, schedule, names, correspondence, etc. The subseries is arranged chronologically.
Series IV, WRITINGS, 1952-1989 (#743-967, 1384), includes drafts, typescripts, some galleys, and page proofs for Julia Child's cookbooks and articles. This series contains material on the following books: Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Vol. 1, 1961 and Vol. 2, 1970); The French Chef Cookbook (1968); From Julia Child's Kitchen (1975); Julia Child & Company (1978); Julia Child & More Company (1979), and The Way to Cook (1989). It also includes an early manuscript by Simone Beck and Louisette Remion Bertholle. Folders with book drafts and notes may contain some correspondence; most related correspondence can be found in Series II, Subseries D. Other book material (promotional material and tour information) may duplicate that found in Series III, Subseries C. Folders of "corrections" for revised or later editions usually include letters from readers complaining about recipes. Folders of Parade typescripts also may include correspondence, background research, etc. The series is arranged in general chronological order, with all material from each project grouped together. See also MC 660 for more material on all the books represented in this series.
Series V, PUBLICITY, 1961-1993 (#968-1014bo, 1385), includes published articles about Julia Child, her cookbooks, and her television shows. Clippings include articles about Child, reviews of and advertisements for her books, features on her appearances, television shows, etc. Scrapbooks contain many of the same clippings as found in the folders of loose clippings; some scrapbooks also include television listings for The French Chef. One volume of publicity and fan mail was compiled for Child by WGBH (#1008vf+). This series also contains several original cartoons or caricatures of Child. Material is arranged with loose clippings filed chronologically, with scrapbooks filed at the end.
Series VI, PHOTOGRAPHS AND OVERSIZED, 1948-1993 (#1015-1273, 1306-1376, 1386f-1397+) contains photographs, slides, negatives, and oversized material removed from previously listed series. It is arranged into two subseries by format. During reprocessing in 2011, all audio- and videotapes (formerly listed as #1274at-1305vt) were removed from the collection and have been processed separately. See Julia Child Videotape Collection (Vt-23) and T-139.
Subseries A, Photographs and slides, 1948-ca.1993 (#1015-1273, 1306-1376) consist of black and white still photographs, many taken on the set of Child's television shows by Paul Child; color slides intended to illustrate books and articles; and personal photographs of Julia and Paul Child and their friends. There was sometimes a several month time difference between the taping and airing of The French Chef television shows; the taping dates are listed here as the date of the photographs. If no taping date was recorded, only the year has been given. During reprocessing in 2011, some photographs of The French Chef were added from accession number 2001-M217; file units numbered #1306 and above are newly listed. Most of the slides in #1188-1243, images of food used to illustrate Child's Parade magazine column, were discarded during reprocessing; any folders with images including Child were retained. The subseries is arranged with professional photographs and slides in a loose chronological order by project, followed by personal photographs.
Many of the photographs taken on the set of The French Chef (#1015-1172) have been digitized and cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. More photographs will be cataloged and digitized in the future. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].
Subseries B, Oversized, 1961-1992 (#1386f-1397+) contains magazine articles, book publicity posters, and other oversized material removed from previously listed series.


Container List

Additional Index Terms

Authors, American
Color slides
Cooking, American
Cooking, French
Cooking--Study and teaching
Cooking--United States
Cooking schools
Cooks--United States
Fan Mail
Manuscripts for publication
Phonograph records
Scripts (documents)
Television cooking shows
Women authors
Women cooks--United States
Women in television broadcasting--United States
Beard, James, 1903-1985
Beck, Simone, 1904-1991
Bertholle, Louisette
Chamberlain, Narcisse
Chamberlain, Samuel, 1895-1975
Child, Julia. French chef cookbook
Child, Julia. From Julia Child's kitchen
Child, Julia. Julia Child & company
Child, Julia. Julia Child & more company
Child, Julia. Mastering the art of French cooking
Child, Julia. Way to cook
Child, Charles, 1902-1983
Child, Paul Cushing, 1902-1994
Claiborne, Craig
David, Elizabeth, 1913-1992
DeVoto, Avis
Fisher, M. F. K. (Mary Frances Kennedy), 1908-1992
Jones, Judith, 1924-
Kamman, Madeleine
United States Information Service
United States. Office of Strategic Services
Willan, Anne